[ in-kyuh-beyt, ing- ]
/ ˈɪn kyəˌbeɪt, ˈɪŋ- /
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See synonyms for: incubate / incubated / incubating on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object), in·cu·bat·ed, in·cu·bat·ing.

to sit upon (eggs) for the purpose of hatching.
to hatch (eggs), as by sitting upon them or by artificial heat.
to maintain at a favorable temperature and in other conditions promoting development, as cultures of bacteria or prematurely born infants.
to develop or produce as if by hatching; give form to: His brain was incubating schemes for raising money.

verb (used without object), in·cu·bat·ed, in·cu·bat·ing.



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Origin of incubate

First recorded in 1635–45; from Latin incubātus, past participle of incubāre “to lie or recline on, to sit on (eggs),” equivalent to in- “in” + cub(āre) “to sit, lie down” + -ātus past participle suffix; see in-2, -ate1. Cf. incumbent, concubine


in·cu·ba·tive, adjectiveun·in·cu·bat·ed, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

Example sentences from the Web for incubate

British Dictionary definitions for incubate

/ (ˈɪnkjʊˌbeɪt) /


(of birds) to supply (eggs) with heat for their development, esp by sitting on them
to cause (eggs, embryos, bacteria, etc) to develop, esp in an incubator or culture medium
(intr) (of eggs, embryos, bacteria, etc) to develop in favourable conditions, esp in an incubator
(intr) (of disease germs) to remain inactive in an animal or human before causing disease
to develop or cause to develop gradually; foment or be fomented

Derived forms of incubate

incubation, nounincubational, adjectiveincubative or incubatory, adjective

Word Origin for incubate

C18: from Latin incubāre to lie upon, hatch, from in- ² + cubāre to lie down
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Medical definitions for incubate

[ ĭnkyə-bāt′, ĭng- ]


To maintain eggs, organisms, or living tissue at optimal environmental conditions for growth and development.
To maintain a chemical or biochemical system under specific conditions in order to promote a particular reaction.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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